October 20, 2009
The political fight against the BCS has been a strictly offseason concern in these parts, and the political action committee devoted to the Series' demise, Playoff PAC, has actually been around and ramping up for its public push for a few months now. But the committee's official "launch" Monday, a media blitz timed to coincide with the release of the initial BCS standings and complete with statements from a few of the familiar playoff-friendly politicos (although not the advocate-in-chief, unfortunately), hit a fair number of its targets, landing in national newspapers, major news sites, major political sites, political blogs an AP wire story that went around the country. Aside from the existence of those stories, the PAC can count reactionary responses from BCS bigwigs in a couple of them ("With all due respect, we think college football decisions should be made by college football, not the politicians in Washington") as its first victories
One of the PACs' primary goals is "help[ing] elect pro-reform political candidates" -- Vote Dalrymple! He's pro-eight teams with no auto-bids! -- to join the existing stable of vocal playoff proponents, namely Sen. Orrin Hatch and Reps. Joe Barton, Neil Abercrombie and Gary Miller, to build a large enough block to pressure the BCS into "voluntary" change. Between them, as you may recall, members of this group of crusading legislators have already been responsible for two bills, aggressive hearings in both the House and the Senate this summer, and two separate calls for Justice Department investigations in the last two years and have a supporter in the Oval Office, as well as in most of the country's most high profile coaches and even the stray university president. How much more pressure can they exert?
Geoffrey C. Rapp, an associate law professor at the University of Toledo who follows sports law, said he doesn't see the PAC making much difference.
"The legislative branch is good at holding hearings, is good at getting angry about things," he said. "But it doesn't seem like it's been as good at actually implementing any meaningful solutions."
"The change comes from the entities themselves, and until they're ready to do it, until they see a profit for them making the change, I don't think they'd be responsive," he said.
Miller's anti-BCS bill has been stuck in committee since Jan. 16, Barton's since Jan. 9. There hasn't been a word on the Series from Barton since he wagged his finger at BCS commissioner John Swofford while threatening to push legislation through in May, or from Hatch since he threatened to bring down the Justice Department hammer a month later. The BCS is set for five more years with no significant changes to the format. The anti-BCS fight has come a long, long way in the last three years in terms of rhetoric, and especially in the power brokers who are willing to express it, but as an actual lobby, it's got a long way to go.